The Hospital Builder
Tandberg was a senior consultant at Innherred Hospital 1911–17. From the very first day in the job, he kept raising the issue of the wretched conditions at the hospital. Neither the newly operated nor the dying were given single rooms. The same was the case for patients with infectious illnesses like tuberculosis or venereal diseases. There were two bucket loos, a single water closet and no bath. And wards were constantly overcrowded. In the operating theatre both patients and doctors were said to suffer from the lack of fresh air (12).
He was to become an ardent spokesperson for renovation and new-builds and was the driving force behind what is now referred to as the 1916 building (12), which at the time of construction was considered the most state-of-the art hospital in the country.
Tandberg described the renovation project in an article published by the journal of the Norwegian Medical Association (13). The new building doubled the capacity from 60 to 120 beds.
The annual reports from Innherred Hospital were published in the Medicinsk Revue journal (14). The lists of diagnoses, deaths and operations performed tell us that doctors had to master all aspects of medicine. Apart from himself, the medical staff consisted of one registrar.
In 1915, he published the results of 32 prostatectomies that he had performed in the period 1911–15 (15). In Tandberg's view, this procedure had 'by no means' received the attention it deserved. Many considered prostatectomy to be the solution of last resort. By the time patients eventually sought surgical assistance, their condition had far too often deteriorated accordingly, wrote Tandberg (15). Outcomes were positive in 73 % of cases and less so in 15 %, while the mortality rate was over 11 %. In other words, the results were far from encouraging (16). However, Tandberg had stretched the surgical indication further than he would have done under different circumstances. This was because he served a scattered rural population; some lived as far as 60 kilometres from the nearest medical practitioner.
Many patients did not want to be operated on by anyone but him, even those arriving from Oslo, 'where there was no shortage of good surgeons'
At the time, there was debate about whether prostatectomies gave rise to psychological changes. In Tandberg's opinion, this objection to the operation was greatly exaggerated. He had noticed nothing but joy among the patients who had been relieved of their urinary symptoms. In most of them, their sexual capacity remained unchanged by the operation (15, 16), but he had to admit that the general character of the 'stout, unruffled population of Indherred' played a certain part.